Civil Rights

American Association for Justice CEO Pays Homage to Leonard Schroeter

Below is the full text of a letter from Linda Lipsen, CEO of American Association for Justice (the nation’s largest organization of trial lawyers), writing about the passing of the great Leonard Schroeter:

April 30, 2014

AAJ Recognizes the Passing of Legal Giant, Leonard Schroeter

AAJ Recognizes the Passing of Legal Giant, Leonard Schroeter

Dear Colleagues,

It deeply saddens me to report that longtime American Association for Justice Board member and former President of the Washington State Association for Justice Leonard Schroeter—a man of great vision who was a crusader for his clients and a lifelong advocate for constitutional rights—died on Monday.

Leonard’s roots in the law and his quest for equality and justice formed early. By the 1940s, he was an active advocate for civil rights, organizing lunch counter and bus protests. He was arrested for this work, but persisted, and helped to establish the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

His extraordinary legal career began after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1951. Leonard prepared the school segregation cases for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, then headed by the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Leonard joined the American Association for Justice in the early 1970s after his return from Israel, where he had served as principal legal assistant to the Attorney General of Israel. One of his assignments was representing underground writers and human rights advocates in the former Soviet Union.

As a member of AAJ, Leonard led with purpose and vision. Not only was Leonard a long-standing Board member, but he also served on a number of committees, including Amicus Curiae Committee; Legal Affairs Committee; Section on Toxic, Environmental & Pharmaceutical Torts (Chair); and Civil Rights Committee (Chair). 

More than 30 years ago when the anti-civil justice group called the Manhattan Institute was founded, Leonard proposed that AAJ start a “Brooklyn Institute” to develop research in support of the civil justice system. His ideas for a plaintiff-oriented think tank led to the transformation of the Roscoe Pound Foundation, such that it started doing substantive research and tackling topics at its Annual Judges Forum which drew crowds. 

Leonard was a leading voice prompting AAJ to develop a constitutional challenge program to combat tort “reform.” That program was AAJ’s Legal Affairs department, which grew and eventually became what is now the Center for Constitutional Litigation (CCL). 

For his work as a fighter for access to justice and the American jury system, Leonard received many awards throughout his career, including in 1994, AAJ’s Harry M. Philo Award. Other awards include Trial Lawyer of the Year, Washington State Association for Justice; President’s Public Interest Award, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (which he helped found); and Public Justice Achievement Award, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.

Lawyers like Leonard Schroeter are rare. We are honored and lucky to have benefited from his leadership and his perseverance in fighting for the rights of individuals and families across this nation. He will be remembered and missed by so many. 

Linda Lipsen

American Association for Justice

About Us

This blog is maintained by attorneys at Stritmatter Kessler Whelan (SKW), focused on important legal issues, news, and developments... MORE
Favorite Quotation

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
— Proverbs 24:10

Intense love does not measure, it just gives.
— Mother Teresa

The test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.
— Pearl S. Buck

You may trod on me in the very dirt. But still, like dirt, I'll rise.
— Maya Angelou

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity.
— George Bernard Shaw

Without justice, courage is weak.
— Benjamin Franklin

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fairness is an across-the-board requirement for all our interactions with each other ...Fairness treats everybody the same.
— Barbara Jordan

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
— Thomas Jefferson

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any equal hope in the world?
— Abraham Lincoln

I don’t know what kind of a future life I believe in, but I believe that all that we go through here must have some value.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

The basic proposition of the worth and dignity of man is the strongest, the most creative force now present in the world.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it is obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.
— James Madison

There is no truth existing which I fear, or would wish unknown to the whole world.
— Thomas Jefferson